Philip Rivers –
Can Rivers be trusted as a full-fledged QB1 moving forward? He’s certainly done a lot with little as the San Diego Chargers’ receivers suffer more setbacks than the characters on the Oregon Trail. This matchup should be a fantasy goldmine as the New York Giants have been weak against the pass for as long as they’ve been in the league. The Giants’ defensive line seems to have stepped up as of late so Rivers is going to need to dive, duck, dip, and dodge to avoid costly turnovers and allow the deep pass to develop. Rivers has the chance to earn love as a very high-end QB2, borderline QB1 here while at the same time offering the chance to earn the “do not touch” tag. All up to you, Rivers.
Le’Veon Bell –
Patience certainly pays off as I snagged Bell late on draft day due to his preseason injury that sidelined him for the first few games. Since returning, he has been a “bell”-cow back who seems to play every single snap. Trusting a rookie is usually risky business but playing against the Miami Dolphins’ thin run defense bodes well for his potential. There is really no downside here with Bell for Week 14 but that could prove to be a problem moving forward. If owners can’t lean on Bell here in the playoffs against an easy matchup, they’ll be left with an extremely sour taste in their mouths.
Victor Cruz –
Last week, Cruz managed to break a 20-yard catch and just miss the end zone. Guess what? It’s not good enough. Almost doesn’t win championships. Cruz is weeks and weeks removed from his last touchdown and we’re all out of patience. The time is now for the New York Giants’ leading receiver. He’s already undoubtedly slipped big time in next year’s draft as players like Alshon Jeffery and Josh Gordon have seemingly surpassed him. This game against the San Diego Chargers is nothing short of mouthwatering for fantasy owners as there really isn’t any downside here. That being said, underperforming while having no downside would be disastrous toward owners’ outlook on Cruz moving ahead.
Wes Welker –
Was the hot start to the season nothing but a fluke or is Welker an elite fantasy receiver? We’re all very much on the fence right now as the last month from Welker has been terribly disappointing. This is the perfect time for Welker to burst back onto the scene as the Denver Broncos take on the Tennessee Titans here in the first week of the playoffs. If Decker stays hot and finishes out the season in the same manner as Welker did to begin it, he could drop out of the top-15 wide receivers next year. This would be the perfect time for Welker to remind owners just how valuable he is and earn their love on draft day next season.
Roddy White –
It may be too late for 99.999 percent of owners, but here I sit still holding out hope. Coming off his best game of the year where he went for more than 100 yards, White gets a very high-potential matchup against the Green Bay Packers. There is a slim chance, a very slim chance, that White finishes the season off hot and still maintains a WR1 billing for 2014. The smart money would be more letdowns leading to a huge draft day slip as compared to this season. White can save face a bit here with a nostalgic performance of 10 catches, 120 yards and a touchdown. Starting White will require crossed fingers and preparedness for dissatisfaction but the outcome could go a long way for years to come.
Harry Douglas –
This is my personal hell for the week. White, after his Week 13 performance, or Douglas with his production since Julio Jones was lost for the season? This is your classic damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. Personally, being that it’s a relative toss up, White gets the nod given what he cost on draft day. Will this play put White in the crapper in my mind and in the minds of many other hopeful owners and in doing so, earn Douglas more future consideration? Douglas could find himself getting selected rounds ahead of his suggested average draft position next season by sentimental owners while White finds himself in WR3 talks all depending on what shakes out here.
Jason Witten –
The distance between good games for Witten is almost unbearable. The stretches between touchdowns are nauseating as Tony Romo almost forgets that his star tight end even suits up. At the end of the year, Witten’s numbers will be there but how closely can he finish behind the elitists in Rob Gronkowski, Julius Thomas and Jimmy Graham? Will he be slated as a top-5 option next year or will the likes of Vernon Davis and Jordan Cameron edge him out? Having owners recall fond memories of a two touchdown game the first week of the playoffs would be absolutely gigantic for him on draft day.
Pierre Thomas –
On my bench, but still worth monitoring. Will Thomas be productive enough to pass Darren Sproles as the top selected running back from New Orleans next season? So far, he’s been a great surprise but he’ll have to take the next step to really earn owners’ love. Another 100 total yard game with a score will put owners on notice for next year when the draft snakes back around and Thomas is still on the board.
Adrian Peterson –
Yes, Peterson himself is not immune to riding the value fence from time to time. Last week it was nice to see Peterson get 30 touches but it really took five quarters to do so (I’m aware that five quarters doesn’t make any sense from a mathematical standpoint so save the Tank talk please). Unfortunately for both he and us, in a standard game, he only gets four quarters to do his damage. The Minnesota Vikings need to stay competitive in this game against the Baltimore Ravens to avoid having Peterson as more of a spectator than a contributor. The fantasy playoffs are no time to have your stud watching from the side line.
Be sure to mark your own personal “risers and fallers” as you want to be sure to draft guys you can really count on moving on to next season and beyond. I, personally, will never trust Eli Manning again after his month long skid midseason last year. That seemed to work out well thus far. Many owners are already at that point with such players as Matt Ryan, C.J. Spiller, Arian Foster and Justin Blackmon to name a few, but it’s something you should continue to monitor for the remainder of the year, save for the dreaded Week 17 sitters. Scout yourself, learn your lessons, and best of luck in your matchups.